Facebook is constantly improving its service and adding new features to its interface to keep users happy. Born out of that continuous pursuit is a new “News Tab” that will be geared towards providing “high quality and trustworthy journalism” which Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg first announced back in April.
This month, the social media giant confirmed that the tab is set to launch in fall, around late September to late December. What’s special about this addition is that it will partially involve human touch in the form of real live journalists.
Facebook’s acknowledgment of the incidents that surround the abuse of social media to spread misinformation has led to the creation of this initiative; particularly, the platform’s use to host deceiving stories in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administration.
“We recognize that the same tools that give people more voice can sometimes be abused, by anyone, to spread hoaxes and misinformation,” a Facebook representative told CNBC.
Facebook addresses the incidents it has been accused of catalyzing with the addition of a tab that will exclusively display professionally vetted news stories — in the sense that journalists will now take over where algorithms have failed. This means a team of humans with legitimate reportage experience and knowledge in editorial standards will pick and verify top and breaking stories and showcase only what is most relevant to each user.
“Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” said Campbell Brown, Head of global news partnerships at Facebook told Agence France-Presse, Washington.
“For the Top News section of the tab we’re pulling together a small team of journalists to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories,” she added.
Facebook’s algorithms will still have a hand in the process by gathering certain data like user interactions with news posted online, followed pages, and even subscriptions to digital publications. Strategically, the official News Tab will be separate from the main feed and will enforce eligibility requirements that will distinguish news providers listed in the company’s directory from those that have spread misinformation in the past.
Earlier this year, Zuckerberg expressed his intent to overcome misinformation by funding high-quality journalism. In line with the upcoming launch of the News Tab, Facebook is planning to bring in leading news companies by paying them to license content for the app, and more specifically, the tab.
Such are the efforts Facebook has been working on in hopes of drawing a clear line between real and fake news and putting a stop to the use of social media as a diffuser of alternative facts.
While Facebook is not exactly pioneering this idea of having a team of news curators, with companies like Apple already ahead of the game, the social network still endeavors to become a go-to place for reliable information.
Currently, Facebook is still conducting internal tests but we are hopeful that when the new tab finally launches, this initiative will drive home the fact that sound journalism is a responsibility and it cannot be simply handed over to software. Sure we might spend a little more time on the social app, but at least we’ll know what’s really going on in the world.